The main reason for my presence here in Romania this time was for the LAG meeting.
Progress is painfully slow, but I was pleased to hear from another association ( not a LAG) who came as observers, that they thought we were doing very well in 9 months, as it took them 8 years to become properly functional with all members pulling their weight.
Because it's election time, every village and town in the area is a hive of activity, with ditches being cleaned out, roads tarmaced, new playgrounds being constructed with proper benches, and a host of formal and informal lunches, dinners, drinks and promises for individual electors.
I read quite a nice story on Iain Dale's blog - a comment from an elector who was quite prepared to have female politicians sleep with him, but his vote would depend on the continuance of said sexual services. I can only say I hope the poor girls get a day off occasionally.
Mind you, I wouldn't be at all surprised if this wasn't on offer in Romania. Electioneering is still very much in the " It's a bribe, but, objectively, it's a bloody good bribe" being the most cogent argument in all circumstances.
But to return to the LAG. The real problem here is that it is very hard for people to believe that a group of people are working for the good of the whole community. They are only used to personal enrichment, so it is strange to them that we are saying in effect " put a small amount in and we will get you lots - but for the community, not the individual".
We have secured some funding from the World Bank which will enable us to get more people into our LAG, but also fund it properly for about 6 months. Our hope is that by then, some results will have filtered through, and be visible to all concerned. Simply the training on offer for free is worth while ( for example not one of the Mayors can do his own emails - but at least two of them have told me thay must learn)
The major bone of contention yesterday was a misunderstanding. Within the World Bank budget is a figure of USD2000 to bring in more members. One of our group said he thought it was bad that new members were going to be recompensed for attending meetings, and he would like recompensed as well.
It was pointed out to him that noone was going to be recompensed for attending, but merely to enable the LAG manager to visit other nearby areas and make his pitch. He immediately stated that he would not come again unless he was recompensed. It was pointed out to him that as he lived only about 200 yards from where the meetings invariably took place, he had no cost in actually getting there, and there were always snacks, cakes, coffee, and a variety of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks available once he got there.
" Ah, so you are saying this is our payment? Well, that is OK then" - and everyone was delighted that they were being "paid" to attend, as it meant they felt both worthy and rewarded.
If only loyalty could always be bought so cheaply.